Are you asking “how are you sleeping these days?” instead of “how are you?"
Episode #1027: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report rates of mental health conditions varying 3-4x since 2019. Since the same time period, the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates increased rates of stress, difficulty sleeping, eating issues, alcohol or substance use, and worsening chronic conditions—and, the Pew Research Center states that more young adults live at home now than in the Great Depression. With community mental health declining since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the need for education on the subject is more pertinent now than ever. Join the host of the Arete Coach Podcast, Severin Sorensen, and licensed clinical social worker and executive coach, Sally Rhoads, in a conversation about mental health challenges, questions to ask when gauging mental health, and tips for when and how to refer clients to a mental health professional.
About Sally Rhoads
Sally Rhoads is a licensed clinical social worker and executive coach out of Lexington, Kentucky. Sally has been a social worker for the past 40 years and holds a wealth of knowledge about mental health, mental disorders, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental well-being of the community. She has received two lifetime achievement awards and one licensed clinical social worker of the year award. Sally has a passion for helping others achieve greater mental health and is a skilled professional. Throughout her experience as a clinical social worker and executive coach, Sally has learned how to help people through trauma and clearly define the role of an executive coach versus a mental health professional in the healing process. Sally offers valuable insight to the mental health field and gives executive coaches guidance on how to navigate current mental health issues faced by the community.
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Current research on the Covid-19 pandemic
Severin Sorensen reviews current research and statistics surrounding mental health and the Covid-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 40.9% of survey respondents had at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition. The rates of mental health conditions varied between three to four times that surveyed in 2019. Current research also raises concerns for the effects of quarantine on the mental health of individuals. Health care providers are recommending the maintenance of routine, counseling, or social/mental health services.
Severin summarizes by stating “Clearly, a public health community strategy is crucial to protect the health care system…” The Kaiser Family Foundation indicates increased rates of stress, difficulty sleeping, eating issues, alcohol or substance use, and worsening chronic conditions. In fact, the Pew Research Center states that more young adults live at home now than in the Great Depression.
Research also has indicated that as job loss increases there is an associated increase in mental health challenges. Severin points out that “history has shown that mental health impacts of disasters outlasts the physical impact, suggesting today’s elevated mental health need will continue well beyond the Coronavirus outbreak itself.”
Mental health challenges and their symptoms
Sally Rhoads shares several symptoms that executive coaches might see when coaching their clients. Sally states that those who are feeling restless, tired, excessively perspire, or have heart palpitations often are facing mental health challenges of their own. Because of this, she recommends asking “how are you sleeping these days?” instead of asking “how are you?” If executive coaches are noticing some of these symptoms for more than six months, Sally states that she would recommend giving the client a referral to a mental health professional.
Mental health referrals
Sally states the importance of executive coaches familiarizing themselves with the mental health resources in their local community so that if the time arises, they are able to refer their clients to a resource that best suits their needs. When asked about how to find these resources, Sally recommends networking in business groups and getting to know clinicians in the mental health community. Sally also recommends seeking relationships with executive coaches who are also social workers or psychologists. She says this is important because of the different functions of an executive coach versus a therapist. Severin agrees with her stance and asks how to find referrals that would be a “good fit” for clients. Sally recommends looking to local and federal associations looking for the “therapist’s therapist.”
Sally’s stance on staying healthy
When asked by Severin how she stays healthy after working with others’ trauma, Sally states that she loves “silly, stupid, comedy because [of] that endorphin hit”, walking, going out in her yard, watching the birds, reading, and planning for the future. Sally also shares that she has started learning how to paint for her own enjoyment—calling it “mental health art.”
Mental health trends of youth
Severin shares an article that was released which stated the increasing rates of mental health issues. Sally agrees and shares that there has been a 93% increase in anxiety and depression than what was reported in 2019. “One of the areas that was really alarming was the 11 to 17 age group that scored really high for moderate and severe depression and anxiety” stated Sally. Sally shares that young people have been increasingly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in their academics and social lives. “Staying at home and doing school on the computer has been a source of anxiety and depression” states Sally. Sally also shares that “teachers are overwhelmed with the level of demand” that has come with virtual education. Severin introduces the idea of how home life might be affecting youth as well. Sally agrees as it has been more difficult for children and youth to make claims to social services because they are home with their parents. Unfortunately, social service claims have seen an increase as well.
Mental health trends in the workplace
Severin asks Sally about the mental health trends that have been impacting the workplace. Sally shares that some individuals have enjoyed returning home while others have had added stress due to younger children. Severin relates to Sally’s statement and shares the concern that business leaders have when deciding how to move forward from the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, business leaders are addressing the increased production rates of at-home employees, but also the varied desires of employees when it comes to returning to the in-person workplace.
Mental health apps
Severin and Sally discuss the influence of current mental health and cognitive behavioral therapy apps that have recently become available. Sally reinforces the importance of in-person therapy and that apps cannot track behaviors such as “loss of interest and pleasure in everyday activities.” Sally states that “Sometimes with the apps, there is not the kind of monitoring that is needed.” She recommends to those that are using mental health apps that if they are not improving, they should go see a mental health professional. Severin expands on this idea and states that there might need to be a continuum of learning for mental health apps that lead to therapeutic resources.
Passing the baton of care
One of the questions that Sally asks her clients is, “who would care if something happened to you?” If a client responds with “nobody” Sally knows that she has “a real problem” and that “this person is in absolute distress.” Sally shares that “as a coach, if you are hearing things that make you alarmed, then it is your responsibility to talk to the person about these issues, and if they are suicidal…then it is your responsibility to call the local authorities and get them hospitalized.” When doing so, Sally instills the importance of sitting with, and talking to, your client “while you’re waiting on the person from the mental health group or from the police department.” Severin relates Sally’s statement to the responsibility that bartenders have to customers who are drunk. In the same way that bartenders shouldn’t release inebriated patrons into the street, executive coaches must pass that “baton of accountability” for their clients to the proper mental health professionals.
Shame, criticism, and the need for forgiveness
When explaining a quote from a speech she gave, Sally shares that “when we start to deal with things from a place of judgment, then everything starts to stop.” Sally states that the only thing that can grow in a soil of criticism is shame. According to brain sciences, negative things are registered first, before positive things. Because of this Sally shares the importance of having “positive intention towards ourselves and others”—forgiving others and forgiving yourself.
Knowing what you do not know
Severin asks Sally what a “valuable failure” was in her “practice that has been a valuable lesson to” her and Sally shares a story from her beginning years as a licensed clinical social worker. She shares that “not knowing what [she] didn’t know” was a disservice to a former client of hers. Through this, Sally was able to learn what she refers to as one of the “best clinical lessons of [her] life.”
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